In Support of Urban Farming
RIDGWAY – A community garden owned or operated by a property owners’ association or civic organization is now a use by right in Ridgway’s historic commercial district. And composting toilets, or a “completely contained individual sewage disposal system,” may be approved in facilities that are not required to have plumbing.
The Ridgway Town Council unanimously approved the amendments to the town’s municipal code on Wednesday, thereby enabling a community garden on Laura St.
Council’s actions followed a presentation by Ridgway resident Janet Smith, who sought support for initiatives to encourage “urban” agriculture. An urban orchard consisting of apple trees could eventually lead to an annual “harvest festival,” she said.
“When the town plants trees, why not crops, like apple trees?” Smith said. “People could walk through downtown Ridgway and forage for food.
“I would like council’s support for me once a week to milk a goat in downtown Ridgway,” Smith added. “I think this could be fun. I think it could be a neat theme for downtown Ridgway. I think people are nervous, and we need to reconnect with the land.”
While members of council expressed strong support for growing food in Ridgway, they were not quite willing to permit goats where they are not now allowed. Chickens are already allowed under some circumstances.
“Ridgway is an urban area and livestock doesn’t really go with it,” Councilmember John Clark said, questioning the feasibility of allowing Smith to keep a goat.
Councilmember Ellen Hunter observed that most Ridgway residents are already connected to the land. “The fairgrounds are a perfect place to milk a goat,” she said.
Smith left the meeting neither discouraged by council nor apparently deterred in her mission to transform downtown Ridgway into a bread basket.
An amendment to the Ridgway Municipal Code will restrict fences on the front line of lots in the residential and historic residential zone districts to four feet in height. Fences on the other three sides of a lot may be six feet high. Existing fences that are noncompliant would not be subject to the ordinance if it is adopted on second reading next month.
Council approved the new restrictions on first reading on Wednesday.
To date, the town codes were ambiguous and fences six feet high have been permitted on all sides of a lot.
Skunk Removal Slated
The Ridgway Town Council on Wednesday discussed retaining a service to trap and remove skunks from town. Skunks can’t be relocated, per Colorado Division of Wildlife regulations, but must be killed.
The cost to the town would be $150 per day for 20 traps, each of which would be checked daily, plus $10 for the disposal of each animal that is captured. The bid represents a sharp discount from what skunk removal usually costs, Ridgway Town Clerk Pam Kraft told council.
If the skunk removal works, council agreed, the cost is not an issue.
“Is anybody going to be outraged by this?” Councilmember John Clark asked.
Perhaps, Mayor Pat Willits suggested, there would be fewer objections if residents are asked if they would like skunks removed from their property. Traps can only be located on private property with the owners’ permission in any case, Kraft said.
Council agreed to move forward with a one-week trial period of skunk removal to judge its effectiveness.